Gratitude is an elusive thing. It may be deeply felt but go unexpressed. Or it may be the stuff of Thanksgiving Day celebrations. Sometimes it represents the single most neglected aspect of our lives. We take our good health, our good fortune, our very lives for granted.
It may manifest as a prayer silently mouthed–thank you, Lord–when we get safely to and from our destination. Gratitude may be made visible through the sustained use of a gratitude journal. Or by invoking the karmic good when heartfelt gratitude is reciprocated by good deeds.
For many of us, prayer and gratitude go hand in hand. We say prayers of thanks when the diagnosis isn’t life-threatening or our loved ones come safely home from war or travel.
If we’re particularly mindful, we express thanks and feel gratitude for a baby’s smile and milestone accomplishments, for a beautifully designed automobile, for the smell of stargazer lilies and sweet peas, for magnificent sunsets, for Pachelbel’s Canon in D Major. Too often we’re caught up in the hamster wheel of life and forget to notice and appreciate and express our gratitude. Too often we miss the cosmic lesson that says we won’t be given more until we appreciate what we already have.
Personally, one of the times I feel the most gratitude is during harvest. Any farmer knows just how much is riding on getting the crop off in a timely manner. It’s a race against the weather, the clock, and the calendar. With just a combine windshield separating me from the great outdoors, and hours of time to look around and think, I feel gratitude. I’m thankful for sunny, windy days. I’m grateful for every kernel, every bushel filling my hopper. This year I’m grateful that grain prices have hit a 20- or 30-year high. I’m happy that Roy and I, with the occasional help of our kids, were able to pull off another harvest. I’m relieved that our aging combines and grain trucks held on for another year with only minimal mechanical intervention.
I’m even more grateful we all got through it without a trip to the emergency room or funny farm. Or marriage counsellor.
As someone who hates and fears mice, I was grateful each time a hawk swooped down and grabbed one scurrying away from my combine header. I was thrilled to see a cow moose loping along over the canola swaths. I didn’t know she could jump a four-strand barbed-wire fence from a dead stop. I enjoyed the skittery mother white-tailed deer and her twins. I was grateful to see the jewel-toned leaves shimmering in the wind, because it meant the dew would stay off the swaths and we could work longer.
Regardless of who we are or what our circumstances, we all have reasons to be grateful. Finding those reasons is job one, from where I sit.